ALA Press Release

For Immediate Release
May 2, 2012

Thousands of library leaders to discuss future of library service, e-lending

Keynote speakers include JR Martinez, John Irving, Sapphire, Dan Rather, George R.R. Martin and more
CHICAGO In the age of the Internet, public libraries have filled a critical niche for the millions who rely on them as their first, and sometimes only, source for free access to computers, e-books, e-readers and other technology resources. Unfortunately, this access is in jeopardy as publishers continue to restrict library e-book lending. From June 21 – 26, 2012, thousands of library leaders, library supporters, authors and guests will meet at the Anaheim Convention Center to discuss this and other issues affecting today’s libraries, during the American Library Association’s 2012 Annual Conference.
According to the ALA’s 2011 Public Library Funding and Technology Access Study, more than two-thirds (67.2 percent) of libraries now offer access to e-books, up 12 percent from two years ago. And according to the e-book distributor OverDrive, library patrons checked out 35 million digital titles in 2011, up from 15 million circulations in 2010.
But in many cases e-book circulation is hindered by digital rights management issues and availability of popular titles. Currently, many major publishers, including Macmillan and Simon & Shuster, do not currently sell e-books to libraries, while HarperCollins imposed an arbitrary 26 loans per e-book license, Random House raised e-book prices and Penguin refused to let libraries lend its new titles altogether.
“For the first time in a century, the future of library service is in jeopardy,” said ALA president Molly Raphael. “As digital content continues to gain in popularity, libraries are caught in the crosshairs in a rapidly changing book ecosystem involving libraries, publishers, booksellers and authors trying to navigate their way in a digital world. That’s why these conferences are so important, with thousands of librarians in one place, we can work together to come up with solutions and overcome these obstacles.”
During the ALA Annual Conference, access to e-books and a host of other issues facing libraries will be discussed in the more than 2,000 meetings, discussion groups, programs and special events offered to conference attendees. The Conference also will offer attendees access to approximately 850 exhibiting companies that will feature the latest in books, videos, computers and other materials vital to today's libraries and librarians.
Various programs discussing the popularity of e-books and their future in U.S. libraries will be presented throughout the conference. For example, from 8 – 10 a.m. on Sunday, June 24, a program on the future of library collections will take place called Transforming Collections, in which a panel of academic and public library leaders will discuss the current landscape of e-book collections and innovative ways for libraries to transform collections in the global information environment; also on Sunday, from 10:30 a.m. – noon, a program titled The Rise of E-Reading will be held, in which recent survey findings from the Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project will be announced as well as other research about the rise of e-books, their impact on people’s reading habits and the way that library patrons are hoping to avail themselves of e-book borrowing; and from 1:30 – 2:15 p.m. on Monday, June 25, a discussion titled Ebooks and Ebook Readers: Where Are We Going? will focus on best practices for e-book and e-reader lending.
Opening the conference on from 4-5:15 p.m. on Friday, June 22, is journalist, internet policy specialist and author Rebecca MacKinnon. As an expert on privacy rights, MacKinnon will discuss Internet privacy and the corrosion of civil liberties through surveillance, data collection and government censorship. In her book, “Consent of the Networked,” MacKinnon focuses on why it’s time to stop arguing over whether the Internet empowers people and address the urgent question of how technology should be governed to support rights and liberties of users around the world.
Bringing the conference to a close will be actor, inspirational speaker, war veteran and author J.R. Martinez. From 9:30 – 11 a.m. on Tuesday, June 26, Martinez will discuss his inspiring story of resilience and optimism and how he found strategies for positive outcomes in tough times. After being injured while serving in Iraq in 2003, Martinez has shared his experiences and positive message with thousands across the country, joined the cast of ABC’s All My Children and Dancing with the Stars, and was featured in People magazine’s Sexiest Man Alive and 25 Most Intriguing People issues. His upcoming book “Full of Heart: My story of Survival, Strength, and Spirit,” will be published in November 2012.
Other highlighted conference speakers include: award-winning author Sherman Alexie (“The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian”); behavioral economist and New York Times best-selling author Dan Ariely (“Predictably Irrational”); Blake Charlton (Spellwright Trillogy); actor and children’s book author Chris Colfer (“The Land of Stories”); best-selling author John Irving (“The Cider House Rules”); best-selling mother-daughter team author Jodi Picoult and Samantha Van Leer (“Between the Lines”); 2007 TED Global Fellow William Kamkwamba (“The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind: Creating Currents of Electricity and Hope”); child philanthropist Talia Leman; New York Times #1 best-selling author George R.R. Martin (A Song of Ice and Fire series); award-winning journalist and author Dan Rather (“Rather Outspoken: My Life in the News”); youth activist Gaby Rodriguez (“The Pregnancy Project”); best-selling author Sapphire (“Push”); Internet philosopher and author David Weinberger (“The Cluetrain Manifesto”); and actor/author Henry Winkler with Lin Oliver (Hank Zipzer series).
During the conference, various book award presentations will take place in which the year’s winners will be celebrated and presented with their honors. Award ceremonies include the Caldecott, Newbery, King, Printz and more. This year will mark the 75th anniversary of the Caldecott Medal.
The American Library Association is the oldest and largest library association in the world, with approximately 60,000 members. Its mission is to promote the highest quality library and information services and public access to information.
For more information on the 2012 ALA Annual Conference, please visit the ALA Conference Web site at, or contact ALA Media Relations Manager Macey Morales at (312) 280-4393,, or ALA PR Coordinator Jennifer Petersen at (312) 280-5043,
Jennifer Petersen
ALA Media Relations